Category Archives: Morning tease

The Actual Monday Morning Teaser

Yesterday, readers got a little more insight into the Sift’s inner workings than I wanted to give them. You see, I want anybody who comes to the blog on a Monday morning to at least get a promise that articles are coming; that’s what the Teaser is for. So I like to get it posted as early as I can. I’m usually a morning person, so I roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, walk to the computer and post.

Well, yesterday I woke up later than usual, with one of those strange I-just-woke-up beliefs that it was Monday and I was running late. Forget the coffee, I had to get to the computer and get a Teaser up right now. It was posted before I saw enough of the world to realize it was Sunday.

I could have taken it down then, but one of my policies is that once commenters notice an error, I can fix it, but I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. (The comments often contain my acknowledgement of mistakes I’ve edited out of the text.) Deleting the post would delete the comments that corrected me. So the wrong-day Teaser stays up.

Anyway, I have it on good authority that it really is Monday today. So here’s what you can expect: Unlike what I would have done yesterday, I’m going to pull my Supreme Court analysis out of the summary and make it a separate article “Two and a Half Cheers for the Supreme Court”. It should go up around 8 or 8:30.

Then I’ll post an article on racial and gender slurs that I’ve been thinking about for a while, but waiting for a news hook: The conservative furor over President Obama saying “nigger” in an interview was the hook I was waiting for, so “Slurs: Who Can Say Them, When, and Why” should go up by 10. It begins with a scene I really love from Clerks 2, and concludes with a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, so I think it does a good job of mixing light and heavy.

Then the weekly summary will cover other people’s reactions to the Court decisions; the amazing crumbling of support not just for the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina state capitol, but for Confederate symbols all over the country; Obama’s eulogy for the Charleston victims; why you should think twice before forwarding that anti-Hillary tweet; and a few other things before closing with a human/elephant musical jam. Maybe 11 or 11:30 for that.

It really is Monday, isn’t it?

The Monday Morning Teaser

Update: It’s actually Sunday and I’m not running behind at all. Thanks to the commenters for pointing this out before I actually started posting articles.


I’m moving slowly on a rainy morning. The featured post today will be “Slurs: Who Can Say Them, When, and Why”. The conservative freak-out over President Obama saying “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public” provides an occasion for me to collect some thoughts that should be obvious, but for some reason aren’t to some people. I’ll try to keep it amusing, with relevant clips from Clerks 2 and Life of Brian.

Since I’m getting a late start, it might be 10 before that appears.

There’s an amazing week to cover in the summary: two major Supreme Court decisions; Confederate symbols started coming down — not just in South Carolina, but all over; the TPP is back from the dead; and President Obama’s eulogy for the shooting victims in Charleston might go down as one of the great American speeches. Expect that around noon.

And I’ll close with something celebratory: a video of two actual, non-animated, boogying elephants.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Of course the event that overshadows everything else this week is the Charleston shooting. The events of the shooting are fairly straightforward and well known by now: We know who did it and how and why. He’s been caught.

There’s a deeper investigative report that needs to be done, but it’s a little beyond my powers: How many potentially violent white supremacists are out there? What’s the government doing to protect us from them? How do they recruit? What are the signs your teen-ager is being drawn in? And so forth. I suspect the Southern Poverty Law Center has such a report, but I haven’t searched it out yet. If you’ve seen something similar somewhere, leave a comment.

So this week I cover two intermediate-depth aspects of the shooting: (1) The amazing inability of conservative media and politicians to see and admit the obvious: that this was racially motivated terrorism. Many of them maintained (long after clear evidence to the contrary was available) that since this was a church shooting, it must be anti-Christian violence rather than racial violence. The rest just professed to have no idea why it happened. (2) The controversy that erupted after the shooting about the Confederate flag, which still flies in front of the South Carolina capitol.

The featured post “Please Take Down Your Confederate Flag” is my reaction to seeing a pick-up truck Friday — about 36 hours after the shooting — going down Main Street in my New England town, trailing a full-size Confederate flag behind the cab. That article is just about done and should be out by 7 or so.

However, the most popular post last week — and I suspect again in the week to come — is from last August: “Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party“. The shooting made it topical again, and has given it another 18K hits so far. It was still picking up momentum yesterday.

The weekly summary covers the bizarre conservative reactions to the Charleston massacre, and then discusses (a little; more next week) the Pope’s climate encyclical, the entry of still more presidential candidates into the race, and Rachel Dolezal (whose story I punted on last week), before closing with the kind of non-disturbing video we need about now: two bear cubs playing together. Expect the summary between 10 and 11.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s time to get back to 2016 stump speeches. And yes, I know Hillary just did her first one, but I’m way behind. I’ll get to her soon. This week it’s Rick Santorum’s turn. For 2016 he’s re-branding himself as a protector of the native-born white male Christian American worker.

It seems like there’s an unusual amount to cover in the weekly summary: The House has at least temporarily blocked the TPP trade deal. A commitment of more troops to “advise” and “train” Iraqi troops fighting ISIS got lots people (i.e., me) worried about creeping into a new Iraq War. There was all the reaction to that Texas pool party. And some other stuff worth raising to your attention from John Oliver and Jay Rosen. Plus: some disturbing trends in red-state higher education. And an amazing weather photo to close on.

Figure the Santorum article to appear between 9 and 10, and the weekly summary between 11 and noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I ignored the buzz surrounding Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner back in April. It wasn’t a well-thought-out decision, I just didn’t have much I wanted to say.

Then this week, when social media was dominated by Jenner’s re-emergence as Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair, I realized the reaction against Jenner gave me a news hook on which to hang some thoughts I’ve been mulling about the mindset of social conservatism. That turned into “What’s So Scary About Caitlyn Jenner?”, which still needs a lot of polishing, but will be out sometime this morning.

The weekly summary will discuss the changes in the Patriot Act, more on the Duggars, the bizarre turn in the Christian persecution complex as the Supremes get ready to rule on marriage equality, why a hopeless presidential campaign can be a good career move (if you’re a Republican), and two dueling videos about the food industry. That post also still needs a lot of work, so I’m not predicting when it will appear.

The Monday Morning Teaser

In addition to teaching the Constitution and the structure of our government, Civics classes ought to teach everybody the basic logical fallacies: ad hominem, straw man, slippery slope, and so on. Because if there’s one thing all citizens ought to know, it’s how to recognize the ways in which hucksters will try to sway their decisions.

This week’s featured post is such a lesson: “Rich Lowry’s False Choice”. Wednesday, Politico had the poor judgment to publish Lowry’s column “#SomeBlackLivesDontMatter“. The black lives that supposedly don’t matter (to the people carrying the “Black Lives Matter” signs) are the victims of black-on-black crime. Because the more police are limited, the more black-on-black victims there will be.

The fallacy — which Lowry presents very artfully, I have to admit — is called “false dilemma“. The choice Lowry offers black communities in places like Baltimore and Ferguson is: continued racist policing or no policing at all. The option of police who enforce the law fairly and don’t abuse their authority has somehow vanished.

The weekly summary will discuss the shot-out-of-the-blue Dennis Hastert scandal, which finally completes the story of Bill Clinton’s impeachment: Literally everybody who went after Clinton was doing the same or worse. Also, Texans are suddenly OK with big government, at least until their disaster-relief checks clear. After intentionally ignoring the Josh Duggar story last week, the steady barrage of links on my Facebook news feed finally wore me down; I’ll pass on what I learned after I filtered the vitriol out of the discussion. And I got to watch the local Fox station make mischief in my back yard, creating a “reverse racism” scandal out of a pretty good piece of student video.

But far and away the most fun thing I got to do this week was go to two talks: I saw Bernie Sanders in Portsmouth Wednesday and Bill McKibben at my church on Sunday. Since I just covered Sanders last week, I won’t go into detail about his message; I’ll focus instead on the crowd enthusiasm and what I think it means. McKibben’s talk might deserve a more detailed discussion in a future week, but today I’ll pass on the gist.

Oh, and there’s a closing: I bet you never wondered who teaches puppies how to act like puppies. New video reveals the answer.

The Lowry article should go up shortly. The weekly summary will take a bit longer.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week my 2016 Speech series covers its first Democrat: Bernie Sanders. As you can probably predict, I like what Bernie is saying. But liberals like me still have questions to consider: Is his candidacy just a little too quixotic? And if Hillary is going to be the nominee anyway — and if nobody remotely reasonable is going to win the Republican nomination — should we already be worrying about the fall campaign instead? Or is it important that somebody plant the progressive flag, whether he wins or not?

A second featured article arose when a section of the weekly summary got out of hand. An explanation of Michael Newdow’s new strategy to use the RFRA in getting “In God we trust” off our money became a more general “Turning the Theocracy Against Itself”.

The weekly summary has a lot of parts that nearly turned into articles: the Irish marriage equality referendum, the Santa Barbara oil spill (which is partly my fault), the political fault line between big business and small business, and the bizarre opinions of the woman who is now Israel’s top diplomat. Since the weekly word limit was already blown away, I figured I might as well have a double closing: a great cartoon about the power of unions, and Coldplay’s attempt to turn Game of Thrones into a musical.

The theocracy article should post shortly, and the Sanders article around ten or so (EDT). Expect the weekly summary before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Two posts demanded to be written this week, which pushes my Bernie Sanders article off another week.

In the first, I identify the problem that was really at the root of Jeb Bush’s bad week: Republicans have never come up with a better response to the disaster of his brother’s administration than to pretend George W. Bush was never president. They won’t defend W and they won’t denounce him. They haven’t changed their philosophy to explain why he was wrong. So his name can never be mentioned. That denial is why they get angry whenever Democrats bring him up: When is Obama going to stop blaming other people for his problems?

The one candidate who can’t use this strategy is Jeb Bush. So what’s he going to do? I discuss that question in “2016’s Mission Impossible: Support Jeb While Forgetting George”. It should be out around 8 EDT or so.

In the second article, I decided the misinformation Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee are spreading about a possible gay-marriage decision by the Supreme Court needs some kind of response. Under the guise of respecting the Constitution, Carson and Huckabee are just flat-out lying about our system of government. That kind of propaganda has results that linger beyond the immediate issue, so I wrote “Civics for Dummies: Judicial Review”. Expect it about ten.

That doesn’t leave much room for a weekly summary, but I do have to say a few things about the death penalty and why we shouldn’t identify the enemy as “radical Islam”. And Texas Senate Republicans tweeted a very revealing image about religious freedom. I’m still looking for a good closing, so I’m not sure when it will be out.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m back from my break to go on a one-stop speaking tour, and it’s been an eventful couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a lot of what has been buzzing around the media has been articles that usually get bookmarked in my Crazy folder, the kind of stories where my first reaction isn’t “What happened?” but “Somebody really did that?”

So yes, residents of Bastrop, Texas (pop. 7,218) really did grill a U.S.  lieutenant colonel about whether he was planning a military takeover of their town, complete with gun confiscation. (When he said no, they didn’t believe him.) Kids on their way to a prom in Colorado really did stop to pose for pictures with guns and a Confederate flag. Anti-Muslim extremists in the U.S. really did hold a Muhammad cartoon contest, and two gun-wielding Muslims really did fall for that bait and get themselves killed.

I’ve often puzzled over how the Sift should respond to such stuff — sometimes the incident or rumor has already gotten too much attention, so covering it just makes it worse — and so this week I’m trying something new: I’m introducing my Crazy Scale, based on the color-coded fire-danger scale you see in the national parks. It’s for stories where the question you really need answered is: “How concerned should I be?” In other words: Can you safely ignore this bit of craziness? Can you laugh and move on? Or does it deserve more of your attention than that?

That’s the featured article this week. It’s almost done, and should be out before 8 EDT. In the weekly summary, we’ve got a bunch of new presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, who will get a longer article next week. (In general, I’m trying not to make the Sift all-2016, all-the-time. So I’ll get around to Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina in my own good time, and Mike Huckabee already shows up in the crazy-scale article.) A lot of interesting discussion came out of the Baltimore riot. There’s more about the complexity of public opinion on abortion. And we’ll close with a musical trip to Negrotown, guided by Key & Peele. I’m aiming to have that out around 11.

 

The Monday Morning Teaser

You knew, once it was clear that Hillary was in the race, that there’d be new attempts to raise some kind of scandal. Bill’s administration seldom went more than a few months without somebody attempting to make a scandal out of something: Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster … there was always something. Monica Lewinsky was the scandal that finally stuck, but that came after years of throwing mud at the wall.

This week’s featured post looks at the new book Clinton Cash and the wannabee scandal that the NYT picked up from it this week. It just needs a proofreading, so it should be out within the hour.

The week provides a lot of other stuff to talk about: Earth Day, a drone mistake, Obama vs. Warren on the trade deal, and the ongoing spectacle of presidential candidates courting billionaires rather than voters. I didn’t have time or space to give those topics the treatment they deserve, so I’ll be pointing you to other people’s stuff.

And this week I ran across some fascinating articles not directly related to the headlines: a well-designed poll revealed the complexity of the public’s feelings about abortion, and somebody red-penciled Bobby Jindal’s op-ed on gay marriage marriage equality and religious freedom discrimination to make it more accurate. Plus there’s some fun stuff: what you’d get if a Segway had sex with a unicycle, and what toddlers really do when they’re left alone in the back yard.

I’m not sure how long it will take to get all that together. Certainly by noon, maybe sooner.

 

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